One of the oldest trees in the county, a very large water oak, stands in the yard of the Shine Turner old home, six miles southeast of Lambert on Coldwater River, and measures thirteen feet and ten inches in circumference. The bark is very rugged and the branches grow low, affording an ideally shady spot. The historic importance of the tree lies in the fact that during the flood of 1882 one of its huge limbs served as a place of refuge for Mr. Turner.
Having been warned of the rising waters, Turner persuaded his family to go to the hills for shelter and security, while he remained at home to protect the property and livestock. When he realized the inundation was upon him, he climbed to the attic of the house for safety, where he crouched for several hours. From here he watched, only to see roofs and walls of houses, lifeless bodies of farm animals, household goods, bridges and barrels hurtling past in the swift current or floating more slowly on the calmer waters near at hand, so he gathered up his bedding and dragged it through the single attic window onto the limb of the oak tree, which was several feet higher than the house. Here, he remained two or three days and nights, until rescued by friends.
High Water, Cold, Causes Suffering
“The highest water ever seen in this vicinity has caused untold suffering and damage in Quitman County this week.
“Coupled with freezing weather, the town of Sledge and the surrounding territory have been inundated, and the work of saving people stranded throughout the country-side has been handicapped to a great extent by the lack of boats and motors. Rescue work has been going forward as rapidly as possible, however, and as we understand it, the majority of people caught in their homes by the waters have been brought to safety.
“Water in the main street Sledge has been full three and one-half feet deep, and the whole town is covered with water, with the exception of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley depot. Refugees have been brought in there and cared for by the Red Cross under the direction of Mrs. E. York, chairman of the Quitman County Chapter.
“In the territory west of Crenshaw, which was the first struck by the high water in this immediate vicinity, the situation is well under control; everyone in danger has been brought out, we understand from a resident of the town this (Thursday) afternoon. No deaths were reported in this territory.
“The situation is still serious around Sledge, although not as bad as it has been for the past few days. The extremely cold weather, with ice to push the boats through, hindered the work to a great extent. The depot at Sledge has been full of refugees since the work started, and we understand many have been taken to Clarksdale to be cared for.
“Coming on to Darling, the work of rescuing was carried on about one mile west of here, at the Coldwater River bridge, and approximately five hundred people have been brought out of that territory. The sheriff’s force, headed by John Robert Spidle, did yeoman service in that vicinity but were also handicapped by lack of motor boats. The current was so swift that it was absolutely useless to try using rowboats.
“The road between Hinchcliff and Marks went under water Wednesday evening but was still passable late Wednesday night. This road is now passable, and we understand that some of the bridges are out. Rescue work was started today at Falcon and Hinchcliff.
“As this article is being written, water is just about to come in the front door of the Democrat office. Water is now running over the levee of the Coldwater River on the east boundary of Marks, and prospects point to the last four pages of the Democrat being printed with water in the office. The water is running down Main Street and rising steadily.
“Work at Darling Thursday night was being carried on under the direction of Howard Stovall of Clarksdale, who is working from Darling south, and who will follow up the water. Work will be resumed Friday at the river bridge north of Marks under the direction of Mr. Spidle; crew boats will also be working Friday east of Marks, and in the Whitening territory.
“It is expected that the town of Lambert will be in water by Friday, especially the residential district. The territory around Lambert will be flooded without a doubt.
“The Commercial Appeal has been very helpful in securing aid for this section, sending in five motor-boats Wednesday night at Darling, where they were pressed into service. Several of The Commercial Appeal staff are on hand covering the story for the paper and landing whatever assistance they are able. The Democrat asks that you give these boys all the co-operation possible, as they certainly are doing all they can to help in more ways than one.
“The Red Cross has been doing everything possible to alleviate suffering, furnishing food, bedding, heat, etc. Without the assistance of the Red Cross in this disaster, the suffering would have been much greater.
“Ninety-one convicts have been brought in from the Lambert camps to help in building levees around the jail and elsewhere in town where needed. They arrived Thursday morning.
“Reports at this writing were to the effect that Coldwater River bridge on Highway No. 6 to Batesville was just about to go out. We are unable to confirm this now.
“We do not know about the water situation at Crowder; however, we are reliably informed that the CCC camp there is able to care for about fifty refugees.
“The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railway has been of great assistance in helping out in this disaster. Cars have been spotted at various points along the line, and people living in them. This has been the only way to get to Sledge and Crenshaw, and Thursday was the first time in four days a train has been able to go as far north as Crenshaw. The train went to Savage this morning.
“Work in the Savage vicinity has been handled out of Tunica County, and about fifty families were taken out of that territory and have been cared for. The situation there is well under control.
“Several deaths have been reported from various places, but only one or two that come from thoroughly reliable sources. It is reported that a colored baby was born out from Crenshaw before help came, but the mother was saved.
A negro and a mule reported drowned in Coldwater out from Darling Wednesday afternoon, while the negro was trying to swim the mule out. The loss of livestock has been heavy.
“It is predicted that by Friday morning, water will be in the stores in Marks on the south side of Main Street; and as this is being written, water lacks only a few inches of coming in the Democrat’s front door, and on down Main Street has covered practically all the sidewalk. The water is rising rapidly.
“More boats and motors are needed to carry on the rescue work. A good many boats have been built, and the great lack is motors with which to propel them. Radio appeals for boats and motors have been broadcast repeatedly.”
Flood Waters Receding–Refugees Going Home
“The danger of the flood waters in North Mississippi has passed, and the enormous job of rehabilitation is the job now facing this section of the country.
“While there is still a lot of water in this section, it is falling daily and refugees are being returned to their homes as rapidly as possible.
“Many are still under the watched arm of the Red Cross, however, and it probably will be a week or two, and possibly longer, before all are able to return to their homes.
“A good many of the refugees, we understand, were not in their homes at the time but were living with friends or neighbors until they could get located for the coming season and get a ‘furnish.’ Just how many were in this predicament we are unable to say with any degree of accuracy.
“With the sudden influx of refugees filling every available building in Marks, some fear of sickness and epidemic has been felt, but the doctors of Marks have been on the job; and while there has been the usual amount of sickness that could naturally be expected under conditions of this kind, nothing like an epidemic has gained any headway, and it is thought that the chances are slim for anything like this.
“The sanitary conditions of the refugee camps have been watched as carefully as possible, and the danger of disease has been kept at a minimum.
“The old Methodist Church has been used as a temporary hospital, with the Marks Hospital being held in reserve for any serious cases that might need surgical attention. The courthouse, the Methodist and Baptist churches, the Masonic Hall, the Fally Theatre, and the Silent Grove colored church have been used to house refugees. The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad set in a number of empty cars here and there and they have also been filled with refugees.
“Motor boats may still be heard at practically any hour of the day or night north of Marks, taking the refugees back to their homes. The water has fallen to a great extent, but is still deep enough for a motor boat.”
Quitman County Democrat, 1935
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